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Kentucky State Capitol Building

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Kentucky State Capitol Building

The “new” Kentucky State Capitol Building was built in 1910 at a cost of just over a million dollars. Designed by Frank Mills Andrews in the Beaux-Arts style, the beautiful Capitol sits high above Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort. All three branches of the Kentucky government are housed within the Capitol building. The Capitol features a magnificent rotunda and some wonderful statues and artwork throughout. Entrance and tours are free. I hope you enjoy my photos of the Kentucky State Capitol…

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Ohio's Bicentennial Barns

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Ohio's Bicentennial Barns

Starting in 1998, artist Scott Hagan set out to paint the Ohio Bicentennial logo on 88 historic barns, one in every county of the state. He completed the project in 2002 and when the bicentennial celebration began the following year, every county had its “Bicentennial Barn” proudly on display. You can still see many of these barns as you travel around the state today. Unfortunately I was only able to get these four photos in my travels around the Buckeye State, but every time I saw a Bicentennial Barn, it made me smile from ear to ear.

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My Time in Ohio, A Look Back at the Buckeye State

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My Time in Ohio, A Look Back at the Buckeye State

Ohio. The Buckeye State. A state it seems most people know very little about other than it’s out there in the middle somewhere. I’ve spent much of the summer in Ohio and come away with an intensely different opinion of it than I went in with. It’s a transition state – it connects the east to the west, the Great Lakes to the interior, the Midwest to Appalachia. It’s also a state steeped in history. In the years following the Civil War, it was the third most populous state in the country. During that time, seven of our presidents came out of Ohio, making them second only to Virginia in that regard. Besides presidents, Ohio has given us many legendary Americans. William Tecumseh Sherman, George Armstrong Custer, Thomas Edison, Neil Armstrong, Toni Morrison, Steven Spielberg, Jesse Owens and Cy Young are just a few Ohioans who come to mind who grew up to leave their mark on the country and the world. In the past, when someone told me they were from Ohio, it just passes out of my mind as somewhere in generic Middle America. I didn’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other so I would quickly move past it and forget it. I’m here to tell you I had the wrong idea about Ohio. After six solid weeks of traveling around the state I can tell you it’s a fascinating, welcoming, diverse state with tons to offer and a generally agreeable climate to offer it in. In my travels, I’ve come to think of it as “The Deep South of the Midwest” – a hidden gem and a crossroads which shouldn’t be overlooked.

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This Week on the Road - September 21st-27th

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This Week on the Road - September 21st-27th

Fall has definitely arrived here in Northern Ohio and I couldn’t be happier to see it. I am definitely a warm person and summer is always tough. When the weather gets cooler, I get cooler and I feel more comfortable and happier. I feel like I can wear nicer clothes because I’m not sweating through them and I become happier with how I am presenting myself. Shadow Catcher will be happier too. Although she handled really well through the summer, cooler weather is easier to deal with if you’re a van. I visited my first pumpkin farm of the season this week, just on general principle, and it definitely made me smile. The good apples will be out soon, and fresh cider is already in the stores. Soon, the leaves will start to change and I’m looking forward to the color changes and the photographic opportunities that come with it. I all but missed out on fall last year, so I’m really looking forward to it this year.

After we last met, I set off from Akron and headed south into Amish Country in Holmes County (see photos from the day HERE). On the way, I stopped by Nickajack Farms who were beginning their Fall Fest. I loved walking among the pumpkins and seeing all the Halloween stuff around. I bought a delicious fried pie and then got back on the road…

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Snapshots: Ohio's Amish Country

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Snapshots: Ohio's Amish Country

Holmes County, Ohio is home to over 10% of the world’s Amish population. The first Amish settlers arrived in the region in 1809 along Sugar and Walnut creeks, and today the area is home to over 35,000 members of the Amish community. Holmes County is also home to a large Mennonite population, who are similar to the Amish in their religious beliefs, but socially are more accepting of modern conveniences like cars and electricity. This area is mostly agricultural, but there are some small to medium sized towns as well. Visiting Amish Country in Ohio was similar to my experience doing so in Pennsylvania. There is great curiosity about the Amish which brings many visitors to the area, but in reality the Amish are busy working on their farms and would probably prefer to be left to their work. This leaves other people scrambling to scoop up those tourist dollars with things like the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock (or Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park in Pennsylvania - nothing is more Amish than a good roller coaster) and can create a Disney-like atmosphere. You can definitely get some wonderful bread and cheese in these regions and also some delicious baked goods. I also really enjoyed visiting the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg. There is a fascinating Cyclorama there which tells the entire history of the Amish and Mennonite religions and how they evolved over time. They also have a wonderful video which explains the key differences between the Amish and the Mennonites. Both point out that in many ways the Amish and Mennonites are like anyone else - they have marital issues and rebellious teenagers too. But they also point out that because their lives are simple with all of their basic needs met, they don’t long for material goods and are more likely to feel satisfied than those of us who live in a modern world of mass consumerism. I can certainly agree with that...

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This Week on the Road - September 6th-13th

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This Week on the Road - September 6th-13th

It’s been a fairly quiet week out here on the road this week. After leading an exciting tour for my old tour company, I needed a little bit of time to relax and get back into the swing of things as I prepare for a busy fall season. It’s cooling down and I’m looking forward to fall colors and apple cider. While I spent a few days out in and around Sandusky, my week started and ended in the greater Cleveland area. Cleveland is definitely a city of neighborhoods, and while it hasn’t struck me as hard as Cincinnati did, it has grown on me. It seems there are little hidden secrets around every corner and I’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.

I started my week with an evening in Chagrin Falls. Chagrin Falls is a charming village on the far outskirts of the Cleveland suburbs. It gets its name from the small but pleasant waterfall which flows right through the center of town. Surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants, I just enjoyed wandering around town and taking some photos… 

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These Weeks on the Road - August 16th-September 6th

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These Weeks on the Road - August 16th-September 6th

Whew, I'm taking a deep breath. Sorry for the lack of content over the last few weeks. I've been out guiding a quick tour from New York to Miami for my old tour company. I had planned on getting a bunch of work done as I went, but running a tour is just always so all-consuming. Even with 12 years experience and being in a region I'm really comfortable and familiar with, there's just so much to do behind the scenes to keep a tour running smoothly and keep up with all the paperwork etc. And that's not even mentioning the 5,000+ miles I've driven in the last few weeks. It was awesome to be back in the driver's seat though, and it was a really good tour all around. But it's also good to be back on my own and back with my Shadow Catcher. 

I met my group in Newark on a rainy Sunday morning and we set off to historic Philadelphia. Despite the rain, they kept their spirits up as I gave them a quick tour through Independence National Historical Park, pointing out some of the more important buildings and recounting stories of our Founding Fathers and their lives. We stopped into Carpenter's Hall, site of the First Continental Congress and also in to see the Liberty Bell. From there we headed out for cheesesteaks at Reading Terminal Market and a quick run up the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphis Museum of Art before departing the City of Brotherly Love…

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In My Grandfather's Footsteps

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In My Grandfather's Footsteps

My maternal grandfather died when I was just 3 years old. I have only the faintest memory of him, and it's likely those memories come more from old photos and home movies than anything else. I know the waves in my hair are his. I know he was a bombardier in the Pacific theater and served in Korea. I remember being a teenager and slipping on his old leather bomber jacket and loving the way it felt and the smell of the leather. I know that he worked at Sears after he retired from the Air Force and I kind of believe I remember visiting him there as a kid (this website was built at the library across the street from that old Sears building). Visiting my grandmother's house growing up, I spent a lot of time in his workshop building model cars and airplanes. I liked his tool collection and how everything seemed to have its place, and I always felt connected to him there. Outside of these few small things though, I really only knew one thing about him and about that side of my family which was the name of his hometown: Dillonvale, Ohio. 

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The Green Diamond Gallery: America's Pastime Encapsulated

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The Green Diamond Gallery: America's Pastime Encapsulated

I love baseball. I couldn't quote batting averages off the top of my head nor could I tell you who's won every World Series, I simply love the game. I love the sight of a ball field with its crisp white lines, the call of "cold beer, peanuts, crackerjacks" from the vendors climbing the bleachers and the sound of a well hit ball as it leaves the bat headed for the outfield. I love the history and tradition of the game and how it has often marched alongside, and evolved with, the history of the country. You can probably imagine my excitement then, when, while visiting the city where professional baseball began, I was able to also view the largest private collection of baseball memorabilia in the world. 

The Green Diamond Gallery, in suburban Cincinnati, is a magical place filled to bursting with some of the most awesome mementos to the history of the baseball. While it's not a massive place, I spent three hours there trying to take it all in…

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Snapshots: The Grand Old Dames of the Queen City

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Snapshots: The Grand Old Dames of the Queen City

Originally settled in 1788 at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers, Cincinnati grew to be the largest inland city in the country and the sixth largest overall in the years leading up to the Civil War. In the latter half of the 19th Century, Cincinnati was often referred to as the "Paris of America" due to its many large and beautiful buildings. Today, many of these grand old dames still tower over the city harking back to a time when things were built with style and built to last.  I spent most of my time in Cincinnati with wide eyes and my camera whirring away. Here are some of my favorite old buildings ranging from private homes to churches to public buildings. Cincinnati is definitely a city worth visiting for many reasons, but the architecture was definitely what struck me the most. Enjoy!

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This Week on the Road, July 25th-August 2nd

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This Week on the Road, July 25th-August 2nd

Sadly leaving Athens County behind, I stopped for a brief visit at the Buckeye Furnace State Memorial. Tucked back in the woods, this was a great place to learn more about the production of pig iron, an industry that brought a lot of wealth to the region. I had the place all to myself but could imagine the small community which once stood there and kept the furnace going. This was another of Appalachia's hard labor industries, and one that disappeared as the iron ore dried up and the nation's demands shifted to steal. It was a cool place to visit. 

From there I headed out to the Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande where I had a big breakfast for lunch and wandered around the property for a while. I learned the story of Bob and how he started with a steakhouse, but soon started making sausage as well. This sausage would catapult his business into one of Ohio's best known names.

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A Cajun In Appalachia

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A Cajun In Appalachia

I first met Will Drury at the corner of a bar in the middle of a parking lot on the edge of an island in the middle of the Caribbean. The bar was Duffy's, an institution in Red Hook on the east end of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Will had arrived that day to take over management of Duffy's and I was a regular there. Duffy's was right down the hill from my apartment and I didn't even have to cross the street to get there. I liked Duffy's because the clientele was a good balance of locals and tourists. While most people who lived on the island tried their hardest to avoid the tourists during their down-time, I loved interacting with them. It was great to welcome them to our little island and help them with their plans, and I never tired of their enthusiasm… 

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